Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals Preview: What to Watch from the New York Teams

On Saturday, three of New York’s Division I programs will travel to Troy for the 11th Annual Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals.  Binghamton, Buffalo and Columbia will take the mat three times each at Hudson Valley Community College.

Here are some of the things we’ll be watching in those meets.

Buffalo (vs. NC State, Sacred Heart, Clarion)

The Bulls will open their dual slate under first-year head coach John Stutzman against North Carolina State.  One of the intriguing matches will pit Nick Flannery, who grabbed third at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend, against former Fox Lane standout Sam Speno of the Wolfpack, who was an NCAA qualifier last year as a true freshman.  There are likely to be at least two meetings of Empire State natives, as Tony Lock of Buffalo, fresh off his runner up showing in Ithaca, could face 2013 New York State champion Shayne Brady of Carthage at 184.  In addition, All-American Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State, ranked in the top five nationally at 285, could square off with James Benjamin of Vestal at heavy.  Meanwhile, Nijel Jones, currently ranked in the top 20 at 165 by at least one publication will challenge either Wally Maziarz or Rrok Ndokaj at 165.

Todora, Photo by BV

Speaking of New Yorkers on the opposing squads, the next dual could feature a few more as the Bulls square off with Sacred Heart.  Former Suffolk County stars Nick Lupi and TJ Fabian, who began his college career with a top six finish at the Binghamton Open, could be in the lineup at 285 and 133, respectively, for the Pioneers.  In another potentially interesting contest, Nick Flannery could compete against Andrew Polidore, who led Sacred Heart in victories in 2012-13.

Buffalo’s final competition of the day will come against Clarion.  Justin Arthur, a true freshman, is off to a hot start at 149 and will be a tough test for Buffalo rookie Ryan Todora.  Another set of freshmen could meet up at 157 with Austin Matthews facing Buffalo’s John Northrup, who was fifth at the New York State Intercollegiates.  Mepham graduate Dan Sutherland has seen some action at 184 and 197 for the Golden Eagles and could match up with Tony Lock or Angelo Malvestuto, depending on where he wrestles.

 

Binghamton (vs. North Carolina, NC State, George Mason)

The Bearcats will take on some challengers from further South.  After a fourth-place finish at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend at 141 pounds, Dylan Caruana will be tested all day, facing returning All-American Evan Henderson of UNC, NCAA qualifier Sam Speno of NC State and Sahid Kargbo of George Mason, who wrestled in the preliminary bouts at the NWCA All-Star Classic.

In addition to Evan Henderson at 141, the Tar Heels will provide some other strong performers, including a pair of wrestlers who made the Round of 12 at the NCAA tournament last year, Nathan Kraisser (125) and John Staudenmayer (165).  They are likely to square off with David White and Vincent Grella of the Bearcats.  In addition, North Carolina boasts another wrestler who won a match at the NCAAs last year, 184-pounder Alex Utley, who will meet Caleb Wallace, the New York State Intercollegiates third place medalist.

Deuel, Photo by BV

Speaking of Wallace, he’ll be part of another New York state battle in the second dual of the day as he could face the previously mentioned Shayne Brady of NC State.  Other highlight matches in that meet include Cody Reed vs. KaRonne Jones at 197, the aforementioned Caruana vs. Speno tilt and the match between Tyler Deuel and former Binghamton heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski, currently the #3 285-pounder in the country.  Deuel is coming off a weekend in which he either pinned or teched all of his opponents at the New York State championships.  Of course, the match pits NC State coach Pat Popolizio against Binghamton, the team he formerly led before moving to the ACC.

After facing two teams from North Carolina, Binghamton will next wrestle George Mason.  Once again, Tyler Deuel will meet a quality foe in NCAA qualifier Jacob Kettler.  And a match we’re excited to see is freshman Nick Tighe of the Bearcats, who was third at the New York State Intercollegiates, against a solid opponent in Vince Rodriguez at 133.

 

Columbia (vs. Michigan State, Clarion, Lehigh)

At the Michigan State Open a few weeks ago, there were a few head-to-head meetings between the Lions and Spartans.  There will be 10 more as the two squads compete in Round 1 on Saturday.

One of the highlight bouts looks to be at 157 where Columbia freshman Markus Scheidel could have a rematch against Ryan Watts of the Spartans, who beat him 3-2 earlier in November.  Scheidel then went on to win his next six bouts to take fifth.

Also at the MSU Open, Nick McDiarmid of the Spartans topped Matt Idelson at 197.  We’ll see if a second match between the two is in store.  One more to keep an eye on is at 184, where the champion of the Freshman/Sophomore division in East Lansing, Zack Hernandez (the fourth place finisher at the New York States last Sunday) could take on a solid opponent in John Rizqallah.

Bystol, Photo courtesy of Brock Malone

In the finale, Columbia’s three finalists at the New York State Intercollegiates, Penn Gottfried, Matt Bystol and Eric Fajardo, will look to keep the ball rolling against some young Lehigh wrestlers – Darian Cruz at 125, Laike Gardner at 141 and Elliott Riddick at 174. (The first and last are freshmen, Gardner is a sophomore).  Additionally, one of the two Lions to place at 133 in Ithaca – Joe Moita (fourth) or Angelo Amenta (fifth) will square off with #6 Mason Beckman, while Markus Scheidel will face another ranked opponent at 157 – Joey Napoli.  (Austin Matthews of Clarion, Scheidel’s other opponent on Saturday, is also a highly-touted rookie).

Returning NCAA qualifier Josh Houldsworth of the Lions will compete with yet another Lehigh freshman, Brian Brill. And at 184 pounds, Lehigh has started a pair of New Yorkers, Zach Diekel and Austin Meys, this year.  We look forward to watching one of them take the mat against the Lions.

Rutgers, Virginia, Central Michigan and Illinois are four other teams not mentioned above that will participate on Saturday.

Not Just College Wrestling . . .

There will be more than college wrestling at the event, however.  A high school tri-meet will take place featuring national power Wyoming Seminary, Belmont Hill and St. Vincent Pallotti.  And some top notch wrestlers will take the mat for high school All-Star exhibitions around 3:30.

In addition, the Youth Scrap and Scramble Duals, including eight teams made up of kindergarten to eighth grade wrestlers, will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday.

Stephen Hromada, who is bringing a team representing 631 Elite, is excited about the experience.

“It will be great to wrestle next to college wrestlers,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the weekend.”

The full schedule is as follows:

USA and Russia Split a Pair of Dual Meets in New York; Plus Cornell Wrestle-Offs, Hofstra in Oklahoma and More

World class international wrestling came to the Empire State this weekend, as Team Russia visited New York for a pair of duals against the USA.  On Saturday in Clifton Park, the visiting team captured a 4-3 victory, but the Americans returned the favor on Sunday in Ithaca by winning four of the seven bouts.

In the latter dual, three former Cornell stars represented the Red, White and Blue in front of the home crowd – Frank Perrelli, Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz.

Perrelli took the mat at 55 kg in the opening contest of the meet against Omak Syuryun.  Both wrestlers placed a week ago at the NYAC Holiday International (Syuryun second, Perrelli fourth).  It was the Russian that took charge early with a takedown shortly after the opening whistle.  He continued to add to his lead and finished with a 7-0 win.

It was a similar story at 60 kg, where Aleksandr Bogomoev got on the board first and controlled the remainder of the bout, defeating Jimmy Kennedy by technical fall to give the Russians a 2-0 dual lead.

However, in a back-and-forth affair, Kellen Russell shifted momentum at 66 kg.  The former Michigan NCAA champion fell behind 3-0 early, but fought back to take a 4-3 advantage at the end of the opening period.  The wrestlers exchanged leads for much of the second, with the score tied at 11 late in the period.  Russell then picked up two points for exposure and recorded the fall with just seconds remaining to get the USA on the board.

Photo by BV

It was then time for the second Big Red grappler – Dake – to take center stage.  He registered a pair of pushouts in the opening stanza to take a 2-0 lead after one. The only scoring in the second period was a pushout by the Russian with less than 30 ticks to go, giving Dake a 2-1 victory and knotting the dual at two matches apiece.

Clayton Foster kept things moving forward for the USA in a strong performance at 84 kg.  The former Oklahoma State upperweight attacked throughout the bout and for his efforts came away with a 9-1 triumph over Vladislav Gabaraev to make the team score 3-1 in favor of the Americans.

Next up was another Cornell graduate – Cam Simaz.  At last weekend’s NYAC Holiday International, Simaz met Georgii Gogaev.   The Russian took a 7-1 lead in that match before Simaz rebounded to win 14-7.  On Sunday, the two had a similar beginning, as Gogaev jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.  This time, there wasn’t a comeback, as the Russian notched a 9-0 win.

With each team having captured three matches, it all came down to the heavyweights —  Zach Rey of the USA and Aleksandr Kusraev of Russia. A passivity point and a pushout fueled Rey to the 2-0 victory and clinched the dual for the United States.

Prior to the main event, there were a trio of freestyle exhibition matches featuring New York wrestlers.

In the first, General Brown’s multi-time state placer Ryan Snow topped Ithaca’s Julian Korfine by a 9-2 score.  Next up was Lansing’s two-time NYS champion William Koll, who cruised to an 8-0 technical fall over Carl Rouse of Chenango Forks.

The third bout was a rematch of the 2013 Division I NYS finals at 99 pounds – Yianni Diakomhalis of Hilton and Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two have met this offseason, with Diakomihalis, the #1 wrestler in the nation at 106 pounds, coming out on top.  However, on Sunday, Arujau earned a seven-point victory in an action-packed bout between two of the best freshmen in the country.

There were also bonus matches including Empire State standouts on Saturday at Shenendehowa High School before the first USA vs. Russia dual meet (aka, the Resurrection).

Porter, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Women’s world team members Alexis Porter and Jenna Burkert were both totally dominant against Canadian opponents.  Porter, a high school senior, earned a 7-0 technical fall at 65 kg on familiar turf in her own high school gym over Keagin Collie.  After the first period, Porter led 6-0 and it didn’t take her long into the second stanza to end the match.

Burkert’s appearance on the mat was brief against last weekend’s second place finisher at the NYAC Holiday International, Michelle Fazzari, at 59 kg.  [Burkert was third at that event at 63 kg].  Burkert took control from the opening whistle and recorded a first period fall.

Then, it was time for the men’s competition.  Russia got off to a good start, capturing the 55 and 60 kg matches as Omak Syuryun topped Sam Hazewinkel 8-4 and Aleksandr Bogomoev picked up an 8-0 technical fall over Nick Simmons.

However, 16-year old phenom Aaron Pico of California turned the tide when he registered an 8-0 win over Alibeggediz Emeev, a wrestler who was the 66 kg runner up at the NYAC Holiday International last weekend.  In his senior level debut, Pico began with a pushout for a 1-0 lead about a minute into the match. That’s how the initial stanza ended, however, it wasn’t close for much longer as Pico notched a takedown shortly into the second period, added a pushout and then tacked on two more takedowns to clinch the victory.

Fay, Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Moza Fay then kept the momentum going for the USA, pinning Boris Makoev at 74 kg. But the visiting squad responded. At 84 kg, Keith Gavin controlled most of the contest against Vladislav Gabaraev and held a 4-2 lead late into the match.  It was the Russian, however, who owned the final minute, tying the score with 46 seconds to go and tacking on two more takedowns in the final 30 seconds to win 8-4.  Georgii Gogaev then made quick work of Dustin Kilgore at 96 kg with a 10-2 technical fall before Tyrell Fortune ended the dual on a positive note for the USA with a 2-0 win over Aleksandr Kusraev at heavyweight.

 

Also in Ithaca . . . the Cornell Wrestle-Offs

While Sunday allowed some of Cornell’s recent greats to take the mat on campus one more time, Saturday showcased some of the Big Red’s future stars in the Red/White Eliminations (wrestle-offs). The first five bouts of the afternoon resulted in major decisions, beginning with All-American Nahshon Garrett, who started the day off with a 17-6 victory over Bricker Dixon at 125 pounds.  Like Garrett, Mark Grey won a title last weekend at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open.  Grey continued his strong start to the season, piling up points during a 15-4 win over Logan David at 133.

With Mike Nevinger recovering from an injury, freshman Corey Dake took the spotlight at 141, notching a 9-1 triumph over Josh Kennedy.  Fellow rookies Alex Cisneros and Brian Realbuto then came out on top decisively at 149 and 157.  Cisneros defeated Conner David 10-0 while Realbuto bested Taylor Simaz 11-1.

Palacio, Photo by BV

At 165, fans saw the first close bout of the day.  It didn’t look like it would be tight initially, as freshman Dylan Palacio took control early against Bearcat Open runner up Craig Eifert.  Palacio led 6-1 in the second period after a pair of takedowns and a reversal.  But Eifert stormed back, knotting the score in the third to force overtime.  In the extra session, Palacio struck with a takedown to capture the 9-7 victory.

After grabbing third at the Bearcat Open, Jesse Shanaman followed up with a 10-1 major over Jake George at 174 while freshman Gabe Dean, who entered the national polls this week after beating two ranked foes in Binghamton, topped Billy George 7-2 with a late takedown and near fall at 184.  197 pounders Jace Bennett and Steve Congenie then endured a back-and-forth battle. Congenie had two takedowns but Bennett reversed him both times.  The difference was a pair of back points, as Bennett collected the 6-4 win.

Finishing off the wrestle-offs at heavyweight were Stryker Lane and Jacob Aiken-Phillips.  After a scoreless first period, Lane scored five straight points on an escape, takedown and reversal to win 5-0.

Cornell returns to action next weekend at home with a dual against Binghamton and the New York State Intercollegiates.

Hofstra in the Sooner State . . .

Vaith

The Pride wrestlers have certainly taken on a number of challenges early in the season, facing multiple ranked teams last weekend. Hofstra squared off with another tough opponent on Sunday, dropping a 36-6 dual on the road against Oklahoma.

The home team went ahead early with a decision by returning NCAA champion Kendric Maple over Cody Ruggirello at 149 and a major by Justin DeAngelis against Nick Terdick at 157.  The Pride got on the board with a 1-0 win by Joe Booth at 165 over Clark Glass, but the Sooners then went on tear, capturing six consecutive matches.  In a meeting of ranked wrestlers, Luke Vaith ended the dual on a positive note for the Pride with a 6-3 win over 2012 All-American Nick Lester at 141.

And Results from a Few Additional Tournaments . . .

Several New York wrestlers made the top four at the East Stroudsburg Open on Sunday.  Binghamton’s Jack McKeever nabbed the title at 174 pounds with six victories.  His Bearcat teammate Nick Tighe, a three-time New York state champion, earned third at 133 in his second-ever college tournament.  In the bronze bout, he topped Hofstra’s Kyle Krasavage.  (A few other Empire State natives placed, including Brown’s Billy Watterson (champion at 125) and Anthony Finocchiaro (second at 133).  Two other New York high school wrestlers made the finals – Harrison Cook of Penn and Patrick Hogan, wrestling unattached.  Sean Badura of USMAPS was fourth at 125.

Brockport traveled to the Wolverine State for the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday.  Making the podium for the squad was 197 pounder Paul Glover, who finished first.  He began with three decisions, before coming out on top in the championship round against Kenneth Hayden of Michigan.

At the Roger Williams Invitational, Cortland took third place, driven by champion Lance Moore (285), second placers Brian Bistis (141) and Joey Giaramita (197) and bronze medalists Jacob Green (125), Brendan Dent (157) and Lou Puca (174).

 

In non-college action, three wrestlers from New York took top four medals at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa.  For a recap of that event, see here.

Here are the results from the USA vs. Russia Duals:

USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS at Ithaca (Sunday) USA 4, RUSSIA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) tech fall Frank Perrelli (USA) 7-0
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Jimmy Kennedy (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell (USA) fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake (USA) dec Boris Makoev (Russia) 2-1
84 kg/185 lbs. – Clayton Foster (USA) tech fall Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia)  9-1
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Cam Simaz (USA) 9-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Zach Rey (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

HIGH SCHOOL EXHIBITIONS (FREESTYLE)

Ryan Snow (General Brown) over Julian Korfine (Ithaca)

William Koll (Lansing) over Carl Rouse (Chenango Forks)

Vito Arujau (Syosset) over Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton)

 

THE RESURRECTION – USA VS RUSSIA RESULTS (Saturday) at Clifton Park, RUSSIA 4, USA 3

55 kg/121 lbs. – Omak Syuryun (Russia) dec Sam Hazewinkel (USA) 8-4
60 kg/132 lbs. – Aleksandr Bogomoev (Russia) tech fall Nick Simmons (USA) 8-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Aaron Pico (USA) tech fall Alibeggediz Emeev (Russia) 8-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Moza Fay (USA) fall Boris Makoev (Russia) 1:34
84 kg/185 lbs. – Vladislav Gabaraev (Russia) dec Keith Gavin (USA) 8-4
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech fall Dustin Kilgore (USA) 10-2
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tyrell Fortune (USA) dec Aleksandr Kusraev (Russia) 2-0

WOMEN’S EXHIBITION

59 kg/130 lbs. – Jenna Burkert (USA) fall Michelle Fazzari (Canada) 1:27
65 kg/143 lbs. – Alexis Porter (USA) tech fall Keagin Collie (Canada) 7-0

 

E-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with further results.

 

Destination, Buffalo: Shaker's Blake Retell Picks the Bulls

Wrestling has taken Shaker’s Blake Retell to numerous places in the United States.  This summer, the sport took him even further, as he traveled to Italy and Austria with the Journeymen Wrestling Club.

Now, wrestling will lead Retell to another location – Buffalo – as the three-time state qualifier committed to head coach John Stutzman and the Bulls.

“I really liked Coach Stutzman and his philosophy on the program,” Retell said. “I like the style of wrestling and what it leads to. The campus was really nice and so was the wrestling room.”

Photo courtesy of the Retell family

Retell, who projects to wrestle at 133 pounds in college, has been around wrestling rooms since first grade, when he first ventured into the sport.  He said he joined Journeymen while in elementary school and spends two to three days per week at the club year round.

“Every day I can go there, I go,” he said.  “I’ve been able to learn from some of the best coaches and wrestlers in the world.  It’s really made me a better wrestler, especially technique-wise.”

A few years after starting club wrestling, Retell began his career at Shaker High, where he competed at 96 pounds as a seventh grader.

“My high school coach Dan Gibson picked me up in the mornings and really pushed me when I first started on varsity,” Retell said. “He got me mentally better, in shape and stronger.”

It showed as he piled up victories.  In his eighth and ninth grade years, Retell combined to win over 80 matches with just eight losses at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively. Both times, he qualified for the state tournament and won a match.

It looked like he was headed for the Times Union Center to compete again as a sophomore at 120 pounds before his season was cut short.

“I broke my hand the week before the qualifiers,” Retell said. “I went to the state tournament and watched a little, but it was so tough to watch because I couldn’t wrestle.”

He bounced back with another strong campaign as a junior, notching over 40 wins at 120.  He nabbed seventh at the Eastern States Classic in January, pinning eventual Division II state champion Trey Aslanian of Edgemont and topping All-State grappler Santo Curatolo of Tottenville.

In his third trip to the NYS championships this past February, Retell recorded a pair of pins and fell one win shy of making the podium.

“I felt like I should have wrestled better,” he said. “I messed up a couple of times. Not big mistakes, but little mistakes that cost me matches.”

A few weeks later, Retell again advanced to the placement round at a big event, this time the NHSCA Junior Nationals in Virginia Beach, where he went 4-2 at 126 pounds, just missing All-America status.

The Section 2 competitor was far from done, however. He finished in the top three in both Freestyle and Greco at the New York States in May, wrestled against European grapplers on the July trip with his club and also competed at the Iron Horse Invitational.

But after his journeys, Retell said there’s only place he’s interested in being on the first day of March – the Times Union Center.

“This year, I’m looking to win a state championship,” he said, noting that he’s currently targeting 126 pounds but may be at 132. “It’s all about how you end.”

He hopes to end high on the podium in the state capital.  And after that and all his travels, his destination will be Buffalo.

Videos from the Journeymen Classic: See State Champions and Finalists Battle

Numerous state finalists and champions took the mat at the Journeymen Classic on Sunday.  Here are a few videos of some top notch New York wrestlers from the event:

(For results, see here.  For a recap/summary, see this link).

Rematch of the 2013 99-pound state final (this time at 113) – Yianni Diakomihalis vs. Vito Arujau

 

National (and state) champion Corey Rasheed (Longwood) vs. Fargo Finalist Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa)

 

Nationally ranked (and state finalist) Christian Dietrich vs. Araad Sarrami of California

 

State champion Adis Radoncic vs. state finalist Steve Schneider (170)

 

Nassau County battle: State champion Kyle Quinn vs. state finalist Vito Arujau (113 third place bout)

 

All-American (NYS Third) Travis Passaro vs. State Placer Mike D’Angelo (Rematch of Section 11 finals)

 

Two State Finalists Wrestle at Journeymen: Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam vs. Frank Garcia of Norwich

 

 

Lapi vs. Garcia, Photo by BV

Permission to post videos granted by Journeymen.

 

Journeyman Classic Breakdown: Thoughts and Observations on Sunday's Competition

The Journeymen Classic attracted participants from more than 20 states with top notch talent across the weights. Given that, it wasn’t surprising to see college coaches all over Niskayuna High School, watching the action throughout the day. With six mats in two different gyms, we didn’t watch everything that took place, but here are some thoughts on the event:

(To see videos from the event, click this link).

Corey Rasheed, Frank Popolizio, Yianni Diakomihalis, Nick Piccininni; Courtesy of Adam Burgos

1. Not surprisingly, the undefeated state champions looked like …. undefeated state champions. The Most Outstanding Wrestler honors were awarded to Yianni Diakomihalis (113), Nick Piccininni (120) and Corey Rasheed (160).  All were impressive in going unbeaten and capturing titles.  Diakomihalis faced a tough field (see #2) but continued his winning ways, while Piccininni was in control throughout, including a 10-2 major in the finals against Florida’s Radley Gillis, an NHSCA National champion. Rasheed said that he didn’t feel 100% in his return from injuries, but you wouldn’t know it, as he topped New England champion Andrew Labrie and Fargo All-Americans Jesse Porter and Christian Stackhouse by a combined score of 21-5.  Fellow unbeaten New York gold medalist Rich Sisti cruised to the 225 title, while Louis Hernandez did the same at 152.  And Christian Dietrich, who joins the previously mentioned Empire State grapplers in the national rankings (at 170), went up to 195 pounds and still was in charge all the way through, with a technical fall, a pin and a 12-3 combined score in his other matches.

2. Any time a returning state champion finishes fourth, you know the weight is tough. That was the case at 113 pounds where Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn was defeated early in the day by East Islip’s Jesse Dellavecchia (fourth in New York at 99 in 2013).  Later on, fellow Nassau County grappler and NYS finalist Vito Arujau topped Quinn for bronze, 3-0.  That came after some other great bouts in the bracket, including a state championship rematch between Diakomihalis and Arujau. It’s too early to say whether all of those wrestlers will be at 113 during the high school season, but it was certainly fun to watch this weekend.

3. Those weren’t the only championship performances for New York. At the NUWAY Nationals on the Jersey Shore this summer, Matteo DeVincenzo won the title in a field that included New York placers such as Kelan McKenna and Theo Powers.  That was once again the case on Sunday, as the Port Jefferson state runner up captured a 106 “A” bracket full of heralded competitors, including McKenna and Powers as well as Super 32 Middle School silver medalist Peter Pappas and All-Stater Vinny Vespa.  In Sunday’s finals, DeVincenzo defeated Section 2’s Josh Logiudice, a state qualifier who will be a tough matchup for anyone in his senior season.  Logiudice picked up quality victories over Powers and Vespa.

And how about Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond?  At the Times Union Center in February, he bested returning state finalist and top seed Alex Soutiere in the opening round of the state tournament and made the medal stand, grabbing fifth.  It looks like he’s ready to go even higher in 2014, as he won the 285 weight at Journeymen with a 6-3 triumph over national champion Jesse Webb of Vermont.

It would be fair to say it’s been a good week for Travis Passaro.  First, he committed to continue his career at Hofstra.  In Albany, he celebrated by winning a challenging weight which included state champion Alex Delacruz, New York placer Mike D’Angelo and All-Americans from out of state such as Kevin Jack and Zach Valley. He cruised in the title bout, 6-0, over Payton Shuford.

4. Several other wrestlers made statements.  One was Jakob Restrepo, who topped a pair of New York silver medalists – Frank Garcia and Brandon Lapi, as well as Pennsylvania state placer Jalen Palmer on his way to the finals in the 145 “A” bracket.  He lost in sudden victory there to New Jersey’s Gary Dinmore, one of the top 100 seniors in the nation according to Intermat.  Restrepo’s performance comes after a successful offseason in which he earned All-America honors in Cadet Freestyle at Fargo and won the Super 32 qualifier at Shippensburg. Another second placer, Sam Ward of Locust Valley, looked good on Sunday, beating multi-time New Jersey placer Joe Trovato as well as Florida medalist Anthony Petrone on his way to the 140 “A” title bout, where he was topped by NHSCA National champion Clay Walker of South Carolina.  He’ll be a contender in Division 2 this year after taking fifth last season at 132.

5. There were plenty of standout showings outside of the “A” brackets as well.  Hector and Tito Colom, who racked up significant victory totals at Dunkirk High last year, breezed through the competition on Sunday, winning all of their matches by bonus points on the way to crowns in the 106 and 113 “B” brackets, respectively.  Middleweights Jimmy Leach (140), Skylar Kropman (145) and Trevor Hoffmier (152) were all unbeaten. Leach went to the Suffolk County finals a year ago and Kropman placed at the Eastern States in 2013.  Both look ready for a breakthrough year as do returning state qualifiers Anthony DePrez (152) and Collin Pittman (182).  Ryan Kromer (160) has already made an appearance on the medal stand in Albany and looks prepared to do it again after beating fellow All-State wrestler Konstantin Parfiryev and qualifier Connor Lawrence at the Journeymen Classic. Jaison White, who won big over the weekend, also went undefeated at the Pop & Flo event in the spring and looks to be someone to keep an eye on at 170.

Journeymen Classic: NY State Champions Claim Titles at Highly Competitive Event

They don’t call it a FloMajor for nothing.

Photo by BV (Radoncic vs. Schneider)

On Sunday, over 200 wrestlers from all over the country took the mat at Niskayuna High School for the Journeymen Classic. Everywhere you looked there were highly acclaimed wrestlers. There were national champions, state champions and All-Americans from Fargo, FloNationals and NHSCAs.  Of course, included in the mix were a number of New York’s top grapplers and there were many highlights for Empire State competitors.

2013 state titlewinners Yianni Diakomihalis (113), Nick Piccininni (120), Louis Hernandez (152), Corey Rasheed (160) and Rich Sisti (225) all captured first place at the event.  They weren’t the only New Yorkers who earned the top spot on the podium in the “A” brackets on Sunday.  All-State grapplers Matteo DeVincenzo (106), Christian Dietrich (195), Travis Passaro (130) and Connor Calkins (285) also grabbed gold.

The Most Outstanding Wrestler Awards went to Diakomihalis (lightweights), Rasheed (upperweights) and Piccininni (overall).

More, including videos and observations on some standout performances, will come later in the week. (The event was in round robin format).

RESULTS (from tournaflex.com)

“A” Brackets

106 Pounds (A): Matteo DeVincenzo dec Josh Logiudice, 6-5

Third: Peter Pappas pin Vinny Vespa

113 Pounds (A): Yianni Diakomihalis dec Jesse Dellavecchia, 6-2

Third: Vito Arujau dec Kyle Quinn, 3-0

120 Pounds (A): Nick Piccininni maj Radley Gillis, 10-2

Third: Thayer Atkins (TX) dec Troy Gassaway, 8-1

125 Pounds (A): Tommy Stokes dec Troy Gregor, 4-3

Third: Ryan Pomrinca maj Jonathan Ryan, 10-1

130 Pounds (A): Travis Passaro dec Payton Shuford, 6-0

Third: Kevin Jack over Zach Valley, fft

135 Pounds (A): Chase Zemenak dec Kent Lane, 4-1

Third: Sal Profaci dec Chris Mauriello, 8-1

140 Pounds (A): Clay Walker dec Sam Ward, 6-1

Third: Joseph Ghione over Anthony Petrone, 9-2

145 Pounds (A): Gary Dinmore dec Jakob Restrepo, 3-1 SV

Third: Frank Carrozza dec Brandon Lapi, 4-3

152 Pounds (A): Louis Hernandez dec Tommy Dutton, 7-3

Third: Fritz Hoehn dec Jake Spengler, 12-5

160 Pounds (A): Corey Rasheed dec Christian Stackhouse, 7-2

Third: Andrew Labrie vs. Tyler Mann

170 Pounds (A): Luke Farinaro dec Steve Schneider, 3-2

Third: Adis Radoncic dec Nicholas Weldon, 10-5

182 Pounds (A): Joe Balboni dec Brett Perry, 9-4

Third: Austin Price dec Phil Woods, 1-0

195 Pounds (A): Christian Dietrich dec Nicholas Costa, 6-3

Third: Nick Weber dec Joe Chimelski, 2-0

225 Pounds (A): Rich Sisti dec Jeff Velez, 9-2

285 Pounds (A): Connor Calkins dec Jesse Webb, 6-3

Third: Patton Gossett pin Matt Kaminer

Additional Brackets

106 (B): Hector Colom TF Calvin Call

113 (B): Tito Colom maj Noah Malamut, 13-2

120 (B): Noah Gonser dec Marcel Laplante, 2-0

120 (C): Anthony Hernandez dec Nick Barbaria, 5-2

120 (D): Jon Errico maj Evan Barczak, 11-0

125 (B): Peter Robinson dec Jake Gillis, 3-1

125 (C): Cross Cannone over Brian Guerrero

125 (D): Joseph Ferinde dec James Szymanski, 7-3

130 (B): Christopher Muce dec Christian Vallis, 3-1

135 (B): Elijah Cleary dec Mike Raccioppi, 6-4

135 (C) John Amato over Mason Byrne

140 (B) Jimmy Leach pin Anthony Lombardo

145 (B): Skylar Kropman fall John Mazza

145 (C): Eduardo Ramirez over Kevin Jackson, 8-5

152 (B): Trevor Hoffmier dec Alec Donovan, 6-4

152 (C): Anthony DePrez pin Jason Hoffman

160 (B):  Ryan Kromer dec Konstantin Parfiryev, 7-3

160 (C): Dan Woughter over Garon Pelesauma

170 (B): Jaison White pin Christian Murabito

182 (B): Collin Pittman dec Rocco Hladney, 4-3

 

 

Top Wrestlers from All Over the Country Set to Battle at the Journeymen Classic

When describing the top tier brackets at the Journeymen Classic, set for September 29 at Niskayuna High School, the event’s poster said it is “a true battleground for wrestlers on the east coast.”

‘A true battleground’ is certainly the case.  A year ago, a number of eventual New York State champions and placers saw high-level competition at the event. Some, like Yianni Diakomihalis, Nick Piccininni, Nick Kelley and Rich Sisti won their brackets, while others suffered some rare losses.

While the tournament advertisement mentioned the East Coast, it isn’t just an East Coast event anymore.  This year, the first FloMajor of the season has commitments from over 20 states, covering various parts of the country.  A contingent of more than 10 wrestlers is scheduled to come in from California while a similar number from Michigan will make the trip, as will grapplers from Southeastern locations such as Georgia, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.  There are also expected to be entrants from Texas, Kentucky, Alabama and Arkansas in addition to the large pools of competitors from the Tri-State area and New England.

It’s not just the geographic representation that’s impressive, however. The quality of the participants seems to improve from year to year.

Nine 2013 New York State champions will take part – Journeymen Classic returning champions Diakomihalis, Piccininni and Sisti – as well as Kyle Quinn, William Koll, Alex Delacruz, Louis Hernandez, Corey Rasheed and Adis Radoncic.

In addition, Fargo All-Americans such as Jonathan Viruet (MA), Kent Lane (PA), Christian Stackhouse (NJ) and New York’s Jakob Restrepo, Tommy Dutton and Jesse Porter are registered as are Top 100 recruits Gary Dinmore (NJ) and Jesse Webb (VT).  Webb is a multi-time NHSCA National champion as is South Carolina’s Clay Walker, who is also in the field.

Coaches at the next level have definitely taken notice.  Over 20 college programs have confirmed attendance at Niskayuna High School, including 14 Division I institutions from a range of conferences – the EIWA, ACC, SoCon, EWL, MAC, Big 12 and WWC.

For more information on the event, see this link.

 

Waterway Duals Recap: Six NY Teams Compete; 631 Elite Earns Third Place

A year ago, a team from Long Island captured the title at the Waterway Duals in Pennsylvania.  On Saturday, Long Island was again well represented at the 2013 version of the tournament, as 631 Elite grabbed third place in the 26-team field.

“This is a great event,” said John Passaro, who was an assistant for the team. “There are quality matches all over the place. You go to tournaments like these to be exposed to great competition and to see what you need to work on. This time of the year, every match is important. September and October are about preparing for states and nationals in February and March.  The tremendous competition at Waterway Duals definitely helps to do that.”

631 Elite began with a bye and then had a meeting with Malvern in a rematch of last year’s Waterway Duals finals.  Things didn’t get off to an ideal start.

“Momentum wasn’t going our way at first – it was a little bit scary,” Passaro said. “We got pinned in the first match and then Vito [Arujau] was thrown to his back right away at 113 [pounds].  We could have been down 12-0. But Vito fought off his back and came back and showed tremendous heart.  He not only won the match with a pin, but he turned around the whole dual.”

Vito Arujau, Photo by BV

Arujau’s fall knotted the score at 6 and the Long Islanders took over from there, with Nick Piccininni (120) and Travis Passaro (126) giving the squad the lead for good with back-to-back triumphs.  In the end, 631 Elite won 12 of the 14 bouts in a 52-9 result.

Next up was another Empire State group – Journeymen, which had notched victories in the first two rounds.  In the quarterfinal showdown, 631 came out on top 39-15 behind bonus point wins by Arujau, Piccininni, Jimmy Leach (145), Steve Schneider (170), Nick Weber (195) and Peter Strassfield (heavyweight).  According to Passaro, one of the most exciting contests was at 132 where Journeymen All-American Kevin Jack (an Eastern States champion for Danbury, CT) edged NHSCA Freshman National Champion Chris Mauriello, 3-2.

In the semifinals, 631 met Bison Legend, another Pennsylvania squad.  It was close early, with Arujau and Piccininni giving the team a 7-3 advantage after the first three weights.  However, the Keystone State squad then took control, ending with a 37-10 victory.  (Also coming out on top for the Long Island group was Mepham state champion Louis Hernandez, who had an 11-5 decision at 152).

“Bison came in with a stacked lineup – Fargo All-Americans and quality guys up and down the lineup,” Passaro said. “They were accomplished, hungry and in shape. There were a bunch of close matches that could have gone either way and we lost all of them. But that’s the exact reason to wrestle there.  We got humbled a little bit, but we know what we need to work on.  You want to wrestle those elite kids.”

631 rebounded well, finishing the day on a high note in the third place contest with a 49-12 win over Defiant.  The Long Island wrestlers registered nine wins in the 14 matches, including pins by Leach, Hernandez and Weber.

“The team wrestled really well in the third place match,” Passaro said. “These kids have been doing this long enough to know you only remember your last match on the ride home.  They wanted to have a good ride home and they did.”

Going unbeaten for 631 were Vito Arujau, Nick Piccininni and Louis Hernandez. Meanwhile, Travis Passaro, Jimmy Leach, Greg Cherry, Steven Schneider and Nick Weber all compiled 3-1 records. (The full roster of the bronze medal team is listed at the end of the article).

While 631 Elite earned third with a 3-1 record, another New York squad also registered a 3-1 mark on Saturday.   Team Long Island opened against Contender in a close match that finished deadlocked at 30. After the tiebreaking criteria were applied, Contender was declared the winner, sending Team Long Island out of the placement bracket. (According to Passaro, both teams had two falls during the dual, but a forfeit by Long Island was counted as a fall and Contender moved forward on the ‘most pins’ criterion).

The team bounced back strong, outscoring its opponents 164-18 to win the last three duals in commanding fashion.  Leading the way were undefeated wrestlers James Szymanski (120), Jack Taddeo (132), Sean O’Hagan (138), Ed Ramirez (145) and Gino Titone (152).

“Being in that tournament, in that environment will only help everyone’s development,” Passaro said. “It was tough to lose on the tiebreakers like that, but the positive way to look at it is that the team had three matches where they did extremely well afterwards.”

Also doing extremely well were a number of other wrestlers.  For Journeymen, Kevin Jack, Brett Perry (182) and Youssif Hemida (220) collected four victories apiece, according to the online results.

That wasn’t all for New York wrestling. Iowa Style also took the mat on Saturday, nabbing a victory over fellow Empire State grapplers from Beat the Streets Red.

Beat the Streets brought two teams to the event and the Blue squad notched a 2-2 record with wins over two Pennsylvania foes – 36-16 over Turks Head and 46-21 against MWA.   State champion Adis Radoncic picked up three wins, as did Saidyokub Kahramonov at 145 and Miguel Perez at 220.

One additional standout showing from New York at the event was that of Hilton state champion Yianni Diakomihalis.  The Section 5 star went 4-0 at 106 pounds for the first place team (Griffin Select, Pennsylvania), with three victories by bonus points.

—————-

Passaro mentioned a number of individuals who coached and/or contributed heavily to the success of the Long Island teams, including Mike Patrovich, Ed Ramirez, Matt DeVincenzo, Nick Mauriello, Vougar Oroudjov, Les Ware and Lance Banfi.

 

631 Elite – Third Place Roster

106 Matteo DeVincenzo

113 Vito Arujau

120 Nick Piccininni

126 Travis Passaro

132 Chris Mauriello

138 Evan Meyer

145 Jimmy Leach

152 Louis Hernandez

160 Greg Cherry

170 Steve Schneider

182 Dom Pirraglia

195 Nick Weber

220 Rafal Rokosz

Hwt Peter Stassfield

Taking on the World: Shenendehowa's Alexis Porter Prepares to Make Her Mark at the Cadet World Championships

The summer is nearly over, and Alexis Porter hasn’t caught any waves or spent any time in the sand.  She simply hasn’t had the chance.

“This is definitely the busiest summer I’ve ever had,” she said. “I haven’t gotten to the beach yet, but everything I’ve missed isn’t that important.  I’ll stop when I win a World Championship.  I’ll be ready then.”

She’ll have that chance on August 22 when she takes the mat in Serbia for the Cadet World Championships at 65 kg/143.25 pounds.

It’s a goal she’s had in her mind for quite some time.

“My dad put it in my head a long time ago — way before I was even competing at this kind of a level,” she said.  “He always said that I could be a World Champion or an Olympic champion – even back when I was nine years old.”

When she was nine, Porter competed at the Body Bar FILA Cadet Nationals for the first time, taking second place.  She didn’t return to the event until May of 2013.  This time, the tournament was held in the Sunshine State and served as the qualifier for the World Team. And she had a little extra motivation to put on a show.

“My grandfather, who lives in Florida, came to support me,” she said. “It was the first time he saw me wrestle.  He had just gotten out of the hospital, but he was very adamant that he had to watch me. He was there, wheelchair and all. It kind of gave me an extra edge.”

She used that extra edge to perfection, blitzing through the competition.  Porter began with a 6-0, 8-2 victory before recording a trio of pins, each in less than two minutes.  She then finished things off with a 2-0, 7-0 triumph over Hannah Gladden in the championship contest.

That performance earned Porter spot in Serbia.  And that was just the beginning of an action-packed spring and summer.

“It didn’t hit me until I got back home,” she said of making the World Team. “I was really excited. It’s definitely my biggest accomplishment so far. I feel really lucky – it was a great experience for me. I realized there were a whole bunch of camps I would be going to and that I was about to start traveling.”

One of the places she traveled to was the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs.

“I was at a camp at the OTC and with the elevation, my conditioning got so much better,” she said. “We did a lot of conditioning and strength work.  It was really nice to be there competing.  Everybody was there – the top three in every weight class, pretty much. I was able to drill and train with Elena Pirozhkova, who was really nice and helpful.  I think it made a big difference before Fargo.”

Porter made quite a name for herself in Fargo in 2012, winning a pair of national titles – at both the Cadet and Junior levels.  She expected nothing less than another first place plaque this time around. (She competed only in the Junior division in 2013).

Her finals opponent, Jasmine Mendoza of California, was the same as in 2012.  And the result was the same – a championship for Porter. But her dominance was at another level.  She picked up an 11-2 technical fall in the title bout – and those were the only two points she surrendered.  Her other matches were a pin, 11-0, 10-0 and 12-0.

“Last year, I was conservative,” she said. “I was reserved – I wrestled safe and smart in the finals. I just wanted to make sure I won. This year, I felt like I could open up and make it a much bigger margin.  I wrestled a lot more active and aggressive.”

That individual achievement wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the tournament for Porter.  She was thrilled when Team New York made history, becoming the first squad other than California or Texas to win it all at Fargo in the Women’s Duals competition.

“I might have been more excited for that team win,” she said. “There are some pretty embarrassing pictures of me and how excited I was. A lot of my teammates hadn’t won a match or placed [during the individual competition] but [in the dual tournament] they beat people who were All-Americans. It was exciting to cheer for each other and show our support. Coach [Rob] Hirsch was adamant that no one trained harder than us. We showed everyone that New York is the best team in the country.”

That accomplishment was made more special for Porter because of the uniforms all New York wrestlers wore – with a picture of the late Jeff Blatnick on the back and the words “Dream Big”.

“I felt like Coach Blatnick was with us in spirit,” she said. “Wearing that singlet was a constant reminder of how much our state has gone through and why we deserved it as a team.”

Alexis and Jesse Porter, Courtesy of Porter Wrestling Facebook

Porter’s time in North Dakota was special for more reasons as well.  Her brother Jesse, a rising junior at Shenendehowa, was the only male wrestler from the Empire State to medal in both Greco Roman and Freestyle.  He took second and fifth, respectively, at 152 pounds after his high school campaign for the Plainsmen ended early with an injury.

“I definitely expected Jesse to do really well,” Alexis Porter said. “He didn’t have good luck during the season.  I thought he could win a state championship this year.  But having to sit out made him hungrier than ever.  When he came back, he went full steam, training harder than before.  He fell a little short of his goals in Fargo, but he did really well and I’m really proud of him.  For us, wrestling is a family affair.”

Indeed, Alexis Porter said that she and her brother are often practice partners.  They train at the Journeymen Wrestling Club, which Porter said has been a key component to her success.

She’s had her share of success on the national stage and she’s ready to take it to the global level.

“I haven’t done much international wrestling, but I’m pretty confident that no one in the weight can touch me,” she said. “I believe I should come back from Serbia as a world champion.”

And that won’t be all for Porter.  After the Worlds, she’ll be doing another development camp at the OTC and will prepare for her final year at Shenendehowa.

What happens after that?

“I’m really taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I know how fortunate I’ve been this year. I can’t thank my friends, family and coaches enough because I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.  I feel very blessed and lucky for the year I’ve had – staying healthy and staying successful.  This has been the busiest and craziest summer of my life but it will definitely also be the most fulfilling.”

Journey for the Journeymen: Albany-Area Club On the Way to Europe for a Wrestling and Cultural Experience

A contingent from the Journeymen Wrestling Club will soon be headed to Austria and Italy, staying for almost two weeks.  But it won’t quite be a European vacation.

“It will be fun, but it’s not a tour of those countries,” Journeymen’s Frank Popolizio said. “It’s not like we’re going to the Coliseum and spending the day there. We’ll see a little bit and do some excursions but we’ll mostly be seeing the mats.  We’ll be getting the feel of the European experience from a wrestling standpoint.”

The trip will continue an exchange program that the Journeymen Club has had with European wrestling over the past decade, especially with Italy.

According to Popolizio, it all started when he attended the 2003 World Championships in New York City.

“I went to see the best wrestlers in the world in our backyard, but I had a secondary thing in mind,” he said. “My brother was fourth on the Olympic ladder at the time, but Cael Sanderson was at his weight.  It didn’t look too promising for him to get the nod for the USA, so I started inquiring about wrestling for Italy since our entire family is from there.  I went with some information and materials to give to the Italian coach and in the process, wound up meeting Michele Liuzzi.”

Liuzzi, perhaps Italy’s best competitor at the time, was at the tail end of his career.  Popolizio saw a great opportunity to work with him in the United States.

“I reached out to him over and over,” Popolizio said. “I really wanted to bring him over for a clinic, but he didn’t want to – he had removed himself from wrestling.  But I was tenacious about it and it took years, but I finally got him to come over.”

A relationship was born.  Liuzzi consistently visited the Albany area and began to bring some Italian athletes with him.  In turn, Journeymen made the journey to Italy.  And an exchange ensued.

“This will be our third time going,” Popolizio said. “We’re bringing a really good lineup of dedicated, focused guys who are all very involved in our club.”

Indeed, the list includes multiple All-State wrestlers from 2013, including a pair of silver medalists – Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam and Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa.  In addition, Frank Nassivera of Queensbury (sixth at 170) made the podium while a number of other grapplers – Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills), Josh Logiudice (Guilderland), Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg), John McHugh (Columbia) and Blake Retell (Shaker) were all state qualifiers this February.  (For the full list of attendees, see the end of the article).

“I’m definitely excited,” said John McHugh, who attends Columbia High School. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity not only for wrestling but for the whole cultural experience and a chance to go overseas.”

The impressive group of wrestlers will get plenty of opportunities to hone their freestyle skills, first for five or six days in Austria and then in Italy.

“We’ll train there and then we’ll compete,” Popolizio said. “In Austria, we’ll have a quad meet with teams from Germany, Switzerland and Austria.  And the Italian camp has about 130 kids coming in from a bunch of European nations like Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and probably some others.”

The competition part is something both McHugh and Popolizio remember well from the last time the Europeans traveled to New York.

“When they were here, we had a dual meet with the Italians and Austrians,” McHugh said.  “That was a crazy experience.  It was at one of our gyms and tons of people showed up to watch. They’ve been wrestling Freestyle and Greco their whole lives, but we did pretty well.”

Popolizio agreed.

“When they came here last time, it was fun training with the guys all week and then there are the matches and it’s like, ok, now it counts,” Popolizio said. “Our style of wrestling in the United States isn’t as technical as the Europeans.  They’re putting a lot of time into freestyle, while it’s secondary for us.  Sometimes, our technique isn’t up to snuff, but from a competitive standpoint, we have an advantage.  When it was time to compete, the mindset changed and we lit them up.  They had no idea what hit them. It was a lot of fun.”

There will be some fun off the mat as well.  Popolizio said that the hosts will dictate the schedule, but he knows of an excursion including a hike climbing in the Alps where the group will wind up in a location that overlooks several different countries at once.

“That should be a pretty exciting day, even though we know we’re not primarily there to see Austria or Italy,” Popolizio said. “It will be heavy wrestling with some pleasure mixed in. We’re there to compete and have a cultural exchange to continue to build relationships with wrestlers in other parts of the world.”

 

Journeymen Wrestling Club – Attendees

Jake Ashcraft, Burnt Hills

Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa

Josh Bressette, Fort Ann

Steve Colbert, Galway

Christian Gramuglia, Burnt Hills

Dominic Inzana, Saratoga

Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam

Connor Lawrence, Duanesburg

Josh Logiudice, Guilderland

John McHugh, Columbia

Matt McHugh, Columbia

Frank Nassivera, Queensburg

Tony Papa, Burnt Hills

Kevin Parker, Shenendehowa

Blake Retell, Shaker